New research aims to investigate the role of biofilms in the transmission of multidrug-resistant organisms, or so-called superbugs, in hospital. Stuart McDill reports.
Cleaning a hospital ward using hydrogen peroxide vapour - Bioquell UK's technique just one in use to combat infection but how how efficient is this method against biofilms - where bacteria live in communities rather than as individuals? A UK funding body is backing a study to find out SOUNDBITE (English) FERGUS WATSON, MICROBIOLOGY TECHNOLOGIST "These biofilms are creating these 'walled cities' on surfaces of hospitals which we've seen in a few studies recently that are actually more resistant to cleaning agents, hospital cleaning agents and sort of anti-microbial agents than their planktonic counterparts, planktonic being like plankton in the sea." The spread of anti-microbial resistance is not fully understood - but Watson says biofilms may have the answer SOUNDBITE (English) FERGUS WATSON, MICROBIOLOGY TECHNOLOGIST "It's incredibly complex so not only are they protecting themselves from this web structure that they are creating around themselves but they can share information so anti-biotic resistance can be shared inside a biofilm because these bacteria are bunched together and so they are in close quarters and they can share genetic information and so resistances can be passed between species in these biofilm. So these communities are getting stronger the more diverse they can be, potentially," Cleaner hospitals equal less exposure to infections and that in tern mean less chance for bacteria to become drug resistant - we think SOUNDBITE (English) FERGUS WATSON, MICROBIOLOGY TECHNOLOGIST "Bacteria are creating these resistances because they are being overwhelmed with these anti-biotics and the ones that have this resistance mechanism then thrive. Biofilms could be where they are exchanging this resistance and therefore than sharing it within a community which then spreads." The UN warns we are overusing and misusing antibiotics - both treating people and in agriculture